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Mirtle: NHLPA’s hard-liners hint at decertification after latest offer rejected

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Old
11-23-2012, 12:35 AM
  #251
Fugu
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Originally Posted by Captain Bob View Post
THis is what I wonder.

The players hired Fehr for a reason.
They didn't hire Fehr so they could replay 2006, and sit out for four months only to cave in again.

But what?
My question is, why do you need to decertify to go after the cap?

Why not just say, "We don't like the cap and any offer you make with a cap is rejected." and then stick to it?

Sports unions don't need to decertify to make unions work, They need to have the guts and fortitude to stick it out.

To me, decertification is likely to cause the PA more harm than good.

Thing is, so far, the PA has done nothing buy signify concessions.
In the paper I just referenced, the author offers that the brevity of players' careers (NFL example was 3 yrs avg) insure that owners can always outwait players and win. The shorter the average, the more leverage owners have. It's a bit longer in the NHL, on average, but I don't know the mean and median for games played, so there too, time is of the essence to players. Heck, Hamrlik, who may only play another year typifies another group where time is a factor that puts pressure on players.

The only way players can fight the lockout is if they're willing to outwait the owners. Most guys don't seem to have the time available.

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11-23-2012, 12:41 AM
  #252
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Originally Posted by guyincognito View Post
It depends. If it's a ploy, it's alot easier to explain.

PRO: Might force the owners back to the table.
CON: Owners might decide to see which way the court wind blows, because if you go to court and lose (and there is precedent).... it's over. Season lost, $1.8B down the drain, capitulation/coup.

If it's not a ploy the pros and cons are too numerous to even begin to explain.
On the TSN Podcast last night, Eliot Friedman said the NHLPA hardliners have wanted to to go for the cap and insinuated that, thanks to the owners' quick rejection, now the moderates lost the room.

So whatever it is, I expect Fehr to make a play for the cap.

The NHL can act like it has all the brassiest balls in the world... but at some point you've got to ask yourself ---
Quote:
the PA just gave me a lot,... and with just average growth, I'm coming out way ahead... How bad to I want to win every little thing?
As someone who wants to see the owners get crushed in this CBA, I actually don't want the NHL to accept the PA's offer. Because to me, the NHL wins this offer. It reduces the share without changing the fundamental economics. It puts the NHL in position to call another lockout to win another 5-10 percent five years from now.

If the NHL accepted the PA's offer, they've won (or lost a lot less than the players).

So I'm kind of glad their greed might give Fehr the chance to knock them on their *****.

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11-23-2012, 12:43 AM
  #253
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They can make a play for the cap all they want, but it's not going to happen.

They couldn't fight off a cap last time and it wasn't even in the prior system. Will happen the exact same way if that's the gameplan.

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11-23-2012, 12:44 AM
  #254
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Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
In the paper I just referenced, the author offers that the brevity of players' careers (NFL example was 3 yrs avg) insure that owners can always outwait players and win. The shorter the average, the more leverage owners have. It's a bit longer in the NHL, on average, but I don't know the mean and median for games played, so there too, time is of the essence to players. Heck, Hamrlik, who may only play another year typifies another group where time is a factor that puts pressure on players.

The only way players can fight the lockout is if they're willing to outwait the owners. Most guys don't seem to have the time available.
Possibly... but if you have a PA that is willing to fight tooth-and-nail every single time, the owners will see it's not worth their time, either.

If you have a PA that folds 2-months in... then yeah... .

But if the NHL had to cancel a season once every 6 years...., and only got their way 1/2 the time... then the owners would realize they're hurting their own business.

But right now, I think the owners are still in "bust-the-union" mode.

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11-23-2012, 01:23 AM
  #255
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Originally Posted by Mork View Post
I don't think the players have the balls to decertify. I certainly wouldn't. Too much of an unknown. While it would certainly be Hell on wheels for the owners, it would probably be that for a lot of players too. A few players would do fabulously well, but the farther down the food chain you go the worse it gets. In Ontario, the minimum salary would be $10.25/hour. Maybe less in Tennessee.
I agree but I think the effect on lower-end players is overstated. Secondary scorers (Clarke MacArthur or Alexandre Burrows types) and role players (Brad Marchand or John Madden types) will still be valuable pieces to a contending team. They'll still get a hefty payday, even if it won't be as big as before.

The players that will be hurt the most will be marginal 4th liners, the 13th forwards, or the 7th defenseman. Even then, the NHL will not be able to pay them nothing. There are opportunities in Europe where the average salary is above $100,000 per year. Paltry compared to the $550,000 minimum in the NHL today but hardly minimum wage.

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11-23-2012, 01:35 AM
  #256
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Originally Posted by guyincognito View Post
They can make a play for the cap all they want, but it's not going to happen.

They couldn't fight off a cap last time and it wasn't even in the prior system. Will happen the exact same way if that's the gameplan.
All bets are off if decertification happens.

NHL: We want you guys to have a union again so we're not screwed.
Players: Only if you get rid of the salary cap and replace it with a luxury tax system.
NHL: Dammit.

Will that happen? It depends on how many legal wins the players can rack up. If there's no structured agreement with the players, or the courts order that they resume play under the 2006 CBA, the players will hold pretty much all the cards and can reshape things as they like.

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11-23-2012, 01:51 AM
  #257
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I'm just curious as to why you believe the offer given today could work for the owners? To me it looked like the NHLPA just added clauses to keep the cap high, prevent players from their % dropping, and have the NHL pay for the lockout. It is no where close to moving in the NHL's direction. Maybe I missed something?
The worst part about their proposal... If the nhl's revenue drops they feel their pay should not be affected.

The players would never decertify, where would these players make the kind of money they are making now? The KHL couldn't afford the NHL's payroll and the AHL wouldn't come close. This PA is flat out dumb, they expect to make the same % or more than football, baseball, and basketball players make in a league that does not bring in near as much revenue. Take your pay cut and go cry in your million dollar mansion.
Look at all the players already overseas. The KHL will absolutely challenge the NHL on player salaries if they try to reduce what they offer. Not to mention the Rangers, Flyers and Leafs would be offering huge money to players they want to poach.

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11-23-2012, 02:15 AM
  #258
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Originally Posted by Captain Bob View Post
Possibly... but if you have a PA that is willing to fight tooth-and-nail every single time, the owners will see it's not worth their time, either.

If you have a PA that folds 2-months in... then yeah... .

But if the NHL had to cancel a season once every 6 years...., and only got their way 1/2 the time... then the owners would realize they're hurting their own business.

But right now, I think the owners are still in "bust-the-union" mode.
Thing is, in a collective bargaining situation, cap vs not-cap means so much in money and risk that it will always be worth the owners' time, no matter how long that time ends up being. Hell, forget the savings in raw dollars, the escrow mechanism, by itself, might be valuable enough to an owner to lock the doors forever until they keep it. The PA's members will simply run out of money, be too old to play, or the next guys, who haven't made a dang thing yet will be ready before the NHL caves on that. It's not a fight worth fighting if you're a player.


But with decertification, as someone else just said, all bets are off. But that includes who it even benefits.

Without a cap to convince star players to take a little less, their $$$ go up, I'm sure. In an un-capped, no-rules system, I don't see why Sidney Crosby can't argue that he's worth 40 million annually and get it. Even if his on-ice contributions don't match that, his marketing value certainly does. Put him on Columbus and you've got instant international exposure, you'd never see otherwise.

But without, for instance, a league minimum salary, I don't see why Brian Burke pays Joey Crabb 575k or so when he can get some guy from Sweden for 80k (which may even constitute a raise for that guy) to do, essentially, the same thing on the exact same level. There's more of Crabb than there are Crosby. Would decertification turn rich NHLers into middle-class working stiffs? It might.

Another thing is: one of the big drivers of salary inflation in the last 20 years for guys who aren't all stars, but aren't bubble players either, is salary arbitration rights. I don't think those exist in bizarro decertification world either.

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11-23-2012, 02:20 AM
  #259
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Originally Posted by StrictlyCommercial View Post
Look at all the players already overseas. The KHL will absolutely challenge the NHL on player salaries if they try to reduce what they offer. Not to mention the Rangers, Flyers and Leafs would be offering huge money to players they want to poach.
KHL's got a salary cap of its own. It's something in the vicinity of 12 million. And if I'm not mistaken, it's imposed by fiat, not by collective bargaining, which is to say I don't think the players have any say in anything. It might be an option for a handful of guys, but for the other 595, it's a much worse situation to step into than the one they're turning down.

The KHL doesn't have the resources to fund the NHL offer the PA doesn't like, let alone the NHLPA's ask. It gushes red ink like a waterfall now, and that's with a $12-ish million cap.

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11-23-2012, 02:25 AM
  #260
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Originally Posted by Captain Bob View Post
Possibly... but if you have a PA that is willing to fight tooth-and-nail every single time, the owners will see it's not worth their time, either.

If you have a PA that folds 2-months in... then yeah... .

But if the NHL had to cancel a season once every 6 years...., and only got their way 1/2 the time... then the owners would realize they're hurting their own business.

But right now, I think the owners are still in "bust-the-union" mode.
Do you consider it a loss for the union if about half of their jobs disappear?

Using economic scenarios where the restraints came off (telecom-long distance, broadband), businesses spent wildly beyond their means and were bought out for pennies on the dollar by the giants of the industry. It's settled now but there has been a signifcant contraction of the industry and a substantial loss of jobs.

My take on decertification if carried to the nth degree, is that there would be a wild west show on contracts initially. I think existing contracts would be honored but there would be a scramble to cover the things that were in the CBA that were not in SPCs (eg player discipline). Who knows, the NHL might turn a player over to legal system for prosecution for assault instead of handling things internally? I don't think teams would fold initially and I do think it would be interesting to see if the league pursued any form of rev sharing (they might, although I suspect it would be a drop in a leaky bucket). Over the first few years, the teams with big revs (NYR, TO) would spend to or even beyond break even. I suspect low rev teams would pull in their fangs, but I would bet that league payroll would approach or surpass the 74% they were spending before 04. I also don't think that basic benefits like medical would be overlooked for even the least skilled players considering the danger of the profession. They might have 401k's instead of pensions; I don't think retirement would be entirely overlooked. I also think there would be a variety of clauses in contracts until the dust settled; essentially the evolution of a new SPC (and not through collusion, but enlightened self-interest). As payrolls increased, I would expect teams to fold especially with a lack of sharing. I also think that even companies Rogers/Bell and MSG might eventually look to get out of the hockey business and I don't think there would be others beating down the doors to buy a team.

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11-23-2012, 03:34 AM
  #261
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Originally Posted by SJeasy View Post
Do you consider it a loss for the union if about half of their jobs disappear?

Using economic scenarios where the restraints came off (telecom-long distance, broadband), businesses spent wildly beyond their means and were bought out for pennies on the dollar by the giants of the industry. It's settled now but there has been a signifcant contraction of the industry and a substantial loss of jobs.

My take on decertification if carried to the nth degree, is that there would be a wild west show on contracts initially. I think existing contracts would be honored but there would be a scramble to cover the things that were in the CBA that were not in SPCs (eg player discipline). Who knows, the NHL might turn a player over to legal system for prosecution for assault instead of handling things internally? I don't think teams would fold initially and I do think it would be interesting to see if the league pursued any form of rev sharing (they might, although I suspect it would be a drop in a leaky bucket). Over the first few years, the teams with big revs (NYR, TO) would spend to or even beyond break even. I suspect low rev teams would pull in their fangs, but I would bet that league payroll would approach or surpass the 74% they were spending before 04. I also don't think that basic benefits like medical would be overlooked for even the least skilled players considering the danger of the profession. They might have 401k's instead of pensions; I don't think retirement would be entirely overlooked. I also think there would be a variety of clauses in contracts until the dust settled; essentially the evolution of a new SPC (and not through collusion, but enlightened self-interest). As payrolls increased, I would expect teams to fold especially with a lack of sharing. I also think that even companies Rogers/Bell and MSG might eventually look to get out of the hockey business and I don't think there would be others beating down the doors to buy a team.
The big thing you would see are lower end players being payed per game. Nobody who isn't good enough to play 82 games on pretty much any team in the league will get an annual salary. They will be paid per game. There will be no money for sitting in the press box.

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11-23-2012, 05:51 AM
  #262
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Thanks, F1. @ottawah. At least from my perspective, the owners have only suggested ways of taking back on every front. From F1's post, that would suggest that asking for concessions alone and only budging on how much or how severe those concessions should be wouldn't meet the requirement of "clean hands" or willingness to compromise.
I would not quite go that far, the owners have given up a few concessions, although agreed they are asking for far more than they are giving up.

But would that be called negotiating in bad faith? How many instances during the economic downturn have we seen exactly this, from automotive companies, etc? Just because you feel your business needs this to survive (yes, I say that with a small hint of sarcasm) does not mean it is invalid.

http://unitas.wordpress.com/2008/12/...h-negotiation/

Which ones describes the current situation :

1. A party is free to negotiate and is not liable for failure to reach an agreement.

2. It is bad faith, in particular, for a party to enter into or continue negotiations when intending not to reach an agreement with the other party.



It is easily number 1. No one could possibly think the NHL do not want their teams to play ever again. The best argument that can be made is that they want to play, just under their own terms, and that is number 1, negotiating in good faith.


In any case I want to see this resolved between themselves, not the courts, which could take significant time to resolve.

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11-23-2012, 05:55 AM
  #263
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If the Players decertify they won't be paying for meals and flights unless they had a true cheap skate owner. While those are currently contractually obligated in the CBA, those items are simply part of doing business, and would be covered. Maybe a few really terrible owners would skimp, but almost every team would keep the status quo.
It is hard to say what the landscape would look like. My take is there would be 2 ways to make money in an NHL without a CBA and total free market conditions. The first would be the rich teams model where you pay big money for the top stars and treat them like kings and have your fans pay through the nose to make your profit which they would do in some markets. The second way would be to do everything on the cheap, and basically run an East Coast league team in the NHL. Were talking a $ 5-10 M payroll and few if any benefits. If I'm a young star decertification would be a great thing. If I'm a bubble player I'm likely to make less money then the people comming to watch me.

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11-23-2012, 05:59 AM
  #264
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Possibly... but if you have a PA that is willing to fight tooth-and-nail every single time, the owners will see it's not worth their time, either.

If you have a PA that folds 2-months in... then yeah... .

But if the NHL had to cancel a season once every 6 years...., and only got their way 1/2 the time... then the owners would realize they're hurting their own business.

But right now, I think the owners are still in "bust-the-union" mode.
I'd bet the owners don't want to bust the union.

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11-23-2012, 06:02 AM
  #265
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I see it completely opposite in that only the PA has asked to give up something IF you use the old CBA as your starting point. It seems to be a natural starting point since it was the last legal agreement between the two parties.

However, I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know what the litmus test is legally.
Comparables can come up in situations like this though, and if the NHL pointed out that their offer guaranteed the players a higher level of revenue than the NFL, NBA or MLB players get, despite obviously worse economics, then they have a valid point that the players pay under the last deal is out of line with what equivalent works are making today. So concessions are required.


I've been involved with negotiations where I knew I was going to lose money compared to my last deal. It happens, its part of business. Economies go up and down, supply and demand change over time. I've had skills that were so unique I could charge whatever I wanted, only a few years later to see those skills no longer required, and/or a saturated market for those skills.

So while the previous CBA can slip into the conversation, I think the league can validly show what they are asking for is not unreasonable. And one can hardly argue they are taking advantage of the poor worker by sticking it to them.

Of course I am not a lawyer, and my usual mistake in these cases is looking at something from a common sense point of view and applying the KISS principal. So perhaps I am way off base, but the players need to understand that if they want this to play out in court, it can take a lot of time, possibly stretching into years, and is that really the way they want to go?

Fehr may have won his case in 1995, but the basis of that was unilateral changes to the rules imposed by MLB. There is no such charge here whatsoever.

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11-23-2012, 06:08 AM
  #266
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As for the comments about 3/4th line players, I don't know that they would be paid less. Most teams/fans know these are the players that win cups and I think all salaries would be relative to on ice capabilities.
The problem is there is a huge "artifical" gap between the players salary in the AHL/CHL and the NHL while the gap between skill and usefulness is practically nil. That gap would close, and its not from AHL/CHL players making more ......

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11-23-2012, 06:08 AM
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Do more players than not *want* a union-free NHL to exist, or would decertification simply be a negotiating tactic in order to put legal pressure on the owners to end the lockout and accept a lesser deal?

I suppose it matters more what the courts think, but some Districts are more pro-labor than others (compare Ninth and Second Districts as an example). Also Canadian Provinces tend to be more pro-labor than some US District Courts, so I wouldn't necessarily say that the NFLPA decertification is a litmus test for the NHLPA.


Last edited by Crease: 11-23-2012 at 06:44 AM.
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11-23-2012, 06:10 AM
  #268
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From this article, there's mention of a paper, which can be downloaded (I've added the link below), but the same theme comes up again:

It's an interesting debate-- who needs unions more in today's legal environment?

Link to the abstract. Click on the Download button to get a PDF copy:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.c...act_id=1978517
The one piece of leverage the NFLPA and NBAPA needed -- using decert to get a court to order the lockout ended -- the NHLPA doesn't need. To the NHLPA, the loss of this season is a reality any way they go, so they can lose on the issue and still be ok.

Unless the NHL teams are going to shut their doors and not operate in 2013-14 -- highly unlikely -- decert does the players a lot of good. They're better off in a free market system with antitrust damages as the deterrent than they are in a CBA system. Teams like Phoenix probably won't be able to make much of a go of it in a non-artificial system, but the idea that CBA negotiations should be about the Phoenixs of the world is what led to this philosophical impasse to begin with.

The comps for what 3rd liners will make are European soccer.

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11-23-2012, 06:16 AM
  #269
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This is an interesting way to frame it. Why would either side agree to binding arbitration? Why do you believe an arbiter would have given the PA a worse deal?
Arbitration is pretty much always based on comparables. The league could make a very valid case that they are in a worse economic situation than the NFL, and they give 46.5% to players with non guaranteed contracts.

The players absolutely do not want to go down that road.

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11-23-2012, 06:26 AM
  #270
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Then tell me this. Why wouldn't they just sign the NHL's October offer to get a full season in?

I've held all along that they're all in once the lockout starts taking a chunk out of the season, or they needed to have capitulated back in Sept/Oct. If they didn't think through decertifying (and I think they did since the two other PAs followed that path)... what's the point here?
I would need to read more about this to better understand it.

I agree that a CBA does more for the owners than the players: the draft; restrcitions on player mobility; the cap and other things I haven't thought of. Despite that, I think the biggest gain for the players was to bring the minimum salary up to a good level and that's the thing most at risk. Crosby could probably make $20-million plus on the open market. My concern is that the $600,000 guys would become $200,000 guys in the dog-eat-dog world. And to be clear, I don't think $200,000 is nearly enough to compensate a pro- hockey player for what it takes to get to the NHL.

I would love to see them push the owners to the wall, and if it were me I might do that. If one olf my sons were a 25-yo defenceman playing 12 minites a game, I would worry.

I like the players and don't want them to come to any harm.

However, if they did decertify I would applaud. I woluld like to see the owners handle that. It might recalibrate things by leading to recertification with a new level of mutual respect.

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11-23-2012, 06:27 AM
  #271
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[QUOTE=Greschner4;55977619]The one piece of leverage the NFLPA and NBAPA needed -- using decert to get a court to order the lockout ended -- the NHLPA doesn't need. To the NHLPA, the loss of this season is a reality any way they go, so they can lose on the issue and still be ok.

Unless the NHL teams are going to shut their doors and not operate in 2013-14 -- highly unlikely -- decert does the players a lot of good. They're better off in a free market system with antitrust damages as the deterrent than they are in a CBA system. Teams like Phoenix probably won't be able to make much of a go of it in a non-artificial system, but the idea that CBA negotiations should be about the Phoenixs of the world is what led to this philosophical impasse to begin with.

The comps for what 3rd liners will make are European soccer.[/QUOTE]

Which is?

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11-23-2012, 06:38 AM
  #272
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Originally Posted by Crease View Post
Do more players than not *want* a union-free NHL to exist, or would decertification simply be a negotiating tactic in order to put legal pressure to end the lockout and accept a lesser deal?

I suppose it matters more what the courts think, but some Districts are more pro-labor than others (compare Ninth and Second Districts as an example). Also Canadian Provinces tend to be more pro-labor than some US District Courts, so I wouldn't necessarily say that the NFLPA decertification is a litmus test for the NHLPA.
However the Canadian federal government is decidedly pro capital and anti labour, and over the last few years have tended to be interventionist when it comes to labour disputes.

http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/compi...spx?Language=E

Maybe that's why the NHLPA saw it necessary to make the unusual move of making a presentation to Canada's parliment.

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11-23-2012, 06:41 AM
  #273
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Maybe a bit OT, but who is Donald Fehr? How good is he from a legal point of view? How good is the PA legal team?

Maybe its a tough question, and you need to be a lawyer to get what I am asking about.

Some of the plays he has made so far is very easy to read and textbook stalling/acting like he is hard to handle so to speak. And there are many types like that around who are just very good at what they are doing, and can have very succesful careers. But they don't necessary have the backing of a thorough legal research/game plan (which sometimes even benefits them, because they are even harder to predict).

I recon most here has played Texas Hold 'em. And knows how impossible it can be to play it against someone who never have played it before. You can't get them to where you want. Imagine the advantage the newbie can have on some hands in that situation, being refined into perfection. Imagine negotiating against someone like that. You never really know what they will do, what it will take, and so forth.

Fehr obviously has alot of that in him. Decertifying could obviously be very good or bad, or just a threat, to the owners. If Fehr believes that it can get great results, maybe my take on this lockout is wrong and we are in for a whole kind of diffrent fight then I am expecting. If its an unkown and just a threat -- I don't see how it changes anything. I firmly believe that the talk about the sides being far apart is just posturing and that its a matter of time before they've crawled close enough to each other for both sides to say ok lets just split the diffrences (like what happend in the NBA eventually).

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11-23-2012, 06:53 AM
  #274
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mork View Post
My concern is that the $600,000 guys would become $200,000 guys in the dog-eat-dog world. And to be clear, I don't think $200,000 is nearly enough to compensate a pro- hockey player for what it takes to get to the NHL.
Hey, we know pretty well how that would work. Just look at the status of the league pre-lockout. Very few teams, if I remember correctly, had players making minimum vages on the bottom lines. I am a Ranger fan I've seen 4th lines making 15+m... ()

Take away the cap and this is what you get. 15-20 teams spending a ton of more money then what they are right now to be competetive. They make more money then what the numbers show today, and its undoubtedly worth it to them to pump money into their teams. 5-10 teams couldn't compete on the ice and hence couldn't become more popular and hence would just get in much worse shape then they are already. Many would go to Canada I recon, and some would move around alot. The stability of the league and the leagues positioning in the US -- which long term increases the chance of a good tv-deal in the US and so forth. The players as a group would definitely make more money short term, and probably long term too.

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11-23-2012, 07:01 AM
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I don't think Fehr has threatened to decertify. It was mostly players getting their panties in a twist because NHL wasn't as excited over their proposal as the players were.

The sides will start negotiating and find a deal here in the coming weeks. They are too close not to. There will be lots of posturing while they do it.

I can't really see any situation where 50% of NHLPA members vote to decertify. It's too much of a risk for them. I think it's even unlikely that they find the number of players to sign a petition to have a decertification vote. They have houses, families and mortgages. Even a 50/50 split offers security for NHLPA members, especially with a minimum salary that is significantly higher than it would be without a CBA.

I think the concept of decertification and how it can be a counterpoint to owners using their leverage to force concessions out of the players is more interesting than the threat of decertification is in this specific conflict. I think you have to prepare to use it way in advance for it to have any chance of working.

In the end I feel any kind of arms race is going to have the players come out as losers. They'd be better off to try to find bridge builders and try to grow the popularity of the league so it makes less sense for any side to have work stoppage. I was naive to think NHL had gotten to that stage but then Kelly was booted and Fehr vs Bettman was always going to be what we're currently seeing.

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